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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter preppers

As I traveled to the Giant to watch people pile carts with milk and toilet paper, making me wonder what they drink and apply when it’s not snowing, I felt that I was witnessing doomsday preparations. As though with the fall of a few flakes we all would be plunged into a frozen stasis where the only tools of survival would be liquid vitamin D and a fresher bum.

This winter panic to prepare has always fascinated me because I don’t remember this same activity growing up in St. Louis. If you wanted to see preparation in St. Louis, you waited for summer barbeque season where various near religious functions occurred involving coal, fire, potato salad, pork steaks, bottle caps, and the ever present sound of a Cardinals game in the background. Seemed to take more coordination than a Greek Orthodox wedding.

But for the people of Annandale, the gunfire start of snow prediction gets folks out of their easy chairs, suited up, and heading for the Giant. Nearly every parking space is taken. Folks seem to be actually scurrying beneath the gray sky to get inside. 

As for the prediction, it’s always A BIG STORM. We never talk about a little snow. Instead it’s always A BIG STORM, even if the weatherman says sotto voce, “dusting.” This is akin to someone saying, “watch out, there’s a big mouse in there!”

Once inside the store shoppers continue to wear a desperate look that says, “I should have gotten here earlier. Now I’m at risk of not getting everything that I must have to hold out against the storm, like a bag of Skittles.”

That’s right, Skittles. I’ll let you in on a little secret.  If you go to the store and watch what people are buying before a snow storm hits, it ain’t all salt, milk and TP. Instead when the barometric pressure is taking a dive and the clouds are about to dump, something in folks’ minds must say “PARTY!” or at least “pig out.”

Think about it. When was the last time you heard anyone say, “They’re predicting ten inches. Let’s make sure we’re stocked up on celery.” Never happens.

On the other hand, check out the quickly diminishing supply of popcorn, cocoa, frozen pizza, and ice cream. Peek into the carts and start counting calories in your head.  When you get to a five digit number, stop. Are folks trying to quickly develop fat to burn for those two, maybe three, days of traveling inconvenience?

Now there are those that will make noises about comfort food and how good it is when it’s cold and snowy. I admit that a winter meatloaf or beef stew can really hit the spot. But chasing the comfort meal with two or three boxes of on-sale Valentine’s candy does not exactly complete the menu.

So, as I have observed the actual buying patterns of local, winter preppers, I conclude one thing. It must be February because a lot of New Years resolutions are just a memory.


  1. I bet the beer aisle was similarly bereft of stock

  2. So funny Yes! This article is so true. In fact during the snowstorm today I saw every kind of pizza delivery car pulling into our apts over and over again -You would have thought tonight there was another Superbowl :-0.-Got to have that emergency pizza as well. :-)

  3. To be fair, Saturday is also just a big shopping day for folks that can't otherwise get out during the work week. So I think part of what you're seeing is those of us trying to be responsible and get our weekly groceries bought while the roads are still safe, so now all squeezed into the store at the same time instead of spread throughout the day.

  4. And most folks live within walking distance of a grocery store or 7-11, so even if they can't dig out their cars they wouldn't starve or have to go w/o paper. And God forbid anyone should have to ask their neighbors for anything (or, conversely, offer something to their neighbor/s). I'm not sure the sky would fall if anyone had to substitute facial tissues, napkins or paper towels for TP, since I don't think Sears prints a catalog anymore.��